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Columbus is trying to make immigrants and refugees feel more welcome

A Polish soldier gives directions to Ukrainian refugees upon their arrival at border crossing in Medyka, southeastern Poland, on Wednesday, March 30, 2022.
In Central Ohio, immigrants make up about 8% of the population.

An overview for Central Ohio's plan for welcoming immigrants was rolled out virtually by a panel of local leaders on Wednesday.

The Gateways for Growth Initiative of Central Ohio "endeavors to reduce barriers for immigrants and refugees in our community by developing a strategic plan to welcome them and create a space of belonging."

The plan will offer recommendations to improve the quality of life and economic potential for all residents. Guadalupe Velazquez of Welcoming City said immigrants are a lot of the rich fabric that makes up Central Ohio.

"Immigrants contribute to our positive cultural, social and economic impact the vibrancy within our neighborhoods, and international corridors and are in part due widely to diversity in central Ohio, “ Velazquez said.

Organizers hope their efforts lead to better jobs and more affordable housing for immigrants.

Columbus is one of 10 communities around the country to receive a federal grant to improve outcomes for immigrants. Immigrants are an important part of the growth and development of our region, said Ibrahima Sow of Ohio New African Immigrants Association.

“Twenty-six percent of the growth in this region is immigrants, refugees. And so not just looking at this population as an anomaly, but they are integrated, they make up 26% from 2019 and 2020, “ Sow said.

In Central Ohio, immigrants make up about 8% of the population.

Williams was a reporter for WOSU. Natasha is an Emmy Award-winning journalist and has more than 20 years of television news and radio experience.